How would you describe your church? Large? Small? Modern? Traditional? In the United States and all over the world, faithful, Bible-based churches are following God in different ways. From liturgical services to guitar-led worship gatherings, God is being glorified in these communities. One type of church is called “simple church,” or “house church.”
The idea of simple church originates in the New Testament. Rather than primarily meeting in formal religious building, many believers met in homes. Paul sends greetings to many house churches, including Priscilla and Aquila’s gathering (Romans 16:5) and gatherings in Laodicea and Nympha (Colossians 4:15).
So what does a house church look like in the 21st century? Every house church is different, but many of the principles are the same. A house church gathering often centers around a meal, just as in Acts 2:46 when the believers “ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” This helps the body of Christ to function like a family, to share in each others’ lives, and to spend time with one another. After eating together, a house church might include any combination of prayer, bible discussion, partaking in communion, baptisms, teaching, singing, and other praise.
House churches also practice the “priesthood of all believers” (a concept found in 1 Peter 2 and 1 Corinthians 14:26) during every gathering. Therefore, every church member is encouraged to participate in the service in some way. Perhaps one member might bring a worship song and scripture to go along with it, another might share a personal struggle and ask for prayer, another might pray for that person, and another might lead a study of a passage in the original Greek or Hebrew and present a teaching on it. Because the gathering can only be as large as the number of people that fit into a single home (usually a maximum of 25 people), it is easier to carry out a service like this where personal struggles and praises are shared freely. We all know how intimidating it can be to stand up in front of a 200+ person congregation!
Here at the Bridge, we love teaching people about church and having them re-think their church paradigm. I hope this post was helpful to some of you who were curious. Fee free to send us an email (or come and attend a gathering!).